Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply for admission? 

The music department is part of the College of Arts and Sciences, so if you are thinking of being a music major, you first apply to Cornell through the College's Office of Undergraduate Admissions. More information is available at Admission to the music major is made after you've been enrolled at Cornell. Learn more about the prerequisites and procedures here.

Do you accept a music supplement? 

While you don't need to audition to be admitted to Cornell or to the major, if you think highlighting your musical talents will enhance your overall application you can submit a supplement!

Can I do a double major with music?

Yes, and many music majors choose to do a double major! For in-college double majors, information can be found on the A&S advising page.

How do I get an advisor for music?

When you apply for a music major or minor, you get to choose your advisor. A good recommendation is to choose your favorite music course you have taken and ask the instructor to be an advisor. If you are not sure who to choose, you can contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies for advice.

Can I visit the music department? Do you offer a tour? 

Normally, yes, you can definitely visit the music department in Lincoln Hall on the Cornell campus! The music office is open from 8:30am-4pm, Monday through Friday, and the building itself is open longer than that if you just want to take a look around. If you are interested in meeting with a particular professor, please contact them at least one week in advance of your visit. 

I am in another college (e.g. Engineering) - can I still participate in the music department?

Absolutely! Many of the students who participate in music classes are from a different college. A lot of them say that their music classes and ensembles allow them to take their minds off of other work as a great counterpart to more technical classes they may be taking, and they often satisfy distribution requirements.

I don't have a musical background. Are there classes I can take?

Yes! Many of our classes have no prerequisites, including several performance ensembles. For instance, you can join Deixa Sambar (our Brazilian percussion ensemble), the Gamelan Ensemble, and the Steel Band without any musical background. Check our Courses page for more information about classes that are open to non-majors.

I have a question about a specific class or ensemble. Can I talk to the professor or a current student?

Our professors are terrific and happy to answer questions from prospective students. You can find their contact information on our website, or come to our open houses each semester to meet professors and students in person.

How do I find out about ensemble auditions? When do prospective students come to the campus for auditions?

Each ensemble has its own audition requirements, and details can be found on our website and the ensemble websites. Most auditions take place at the beginning of the fall semester, and a few ensembles also hold auditions at the beginning of the spring semester.

What is the process for taking private lessons? How do scholarships work? Who is the teacher?

To take lessons, you must already have experience in your instrument or vocals, and you also must audition with a faculty sponsor in order to be accepted into the lessons program. Once accepted into the program, you work with the faculty sponsor to be matched with an instructor. 

Lessons are paid for through the bursar system and are an additional cost above tuition. A 20% scholarship is available to students who receive need-based aid from Cornell. Additional scholarships may also be available; check with your faculty sponsor for more information.

Complete information about audition requirements, faculty sponsors and instructors, and how to enroll is available online.

I'd like to take beginner lessons. Can I do that here?

The music department doesn't offer beginner lessons through the lessons program, but the city of Ithaca has lots of opportunities for you. Check out the Ithaca Community School of Music and Arts or Opus Ithaca. For piano students, you can also inquire with the Cornell Piano Society, a student organization that offers lessons taught by other students.

Can I rent instruments or recording equipment from the music department?

The music department does not offer instrument rentals, but you can contact Hickey's Music Center, a local music shop, to rent instruments directly from them. The use of some specialty or oversized instruments at Cornell, like double bass or harp, are assigned by teachers. Ask your instructor directly for more information.

Are there concerts I can attend on campus?

The department offers dozens of awesome, fun concerts featuring student ensembles, soloists, faculty performers, and invited guests, in addition to the Cornell Concert Series' lineup of nationally and internationally touring musicians. Most things are free, and events that aren't are extremely affordable! Check out our website and Facebook page for the complete listings.

How does the locker sign-up process work?

There are a limited number of lockers available for students to keep their instruments and scores. The fee for academic year usage is $15. For more information, please contact Fumi Nagasaki-Pracel at

Can I use the practice rooms?

Practice rooms are open to the Cornell community, but there are different types of access that involve different fees and processes. Check online for more information, or visit 101 Lincoln Hall.

I am in a student organization - how can I book rooms in Lincoln Hall for a rehearsal? 

Student organizations wishing to use Lincoln need to be registered at Student and Campus Life, and affiliated with the music department. For more info, contact Fumi Nagasaki-Pracel at

How do I try out for a cappella?

Most groups on campus aren't department-affiliated and are run entirely by students. Typically, groups will put posters up around campus, chalk, and hand quarter cards and other printed materials out.

What music courses are appropriate for a first-semester student?

Courses in the Department of Music are open to all students enrolled at Cornell, regardless of college. Some of the courses are intended primarily for music majors, but many are open to students with varying degrees of background in music or to those studying music for the first time. We recommend students start with courses at the 1000 or 2000 level before taking 3000 or higher-level courses. All potential majors are strongly encouraged to enroll in MUSIC 1101 – Elements of Music in the Fall semester of their Freshman Year and MUSIC 2201 – Introduction to Music Studies in the Spring. This will maximize flexibility in scheduling the remaining Core Curriculum courses and electives.

What career outcomes have your graduates had?

Our graduates follow a wide variety of pathways, from graduate school to music production to video game companies and more! Read more about some of our alumni.

For questions that aren't answered here, please explore our website and contact Fumi Nagasaki-Pracel, our undergraduate coordinator, for more information